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The Fire Gospel

3.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,201 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
Theo Griepenkerl is a modest academic with an Olympian ego. When he visits a looted museum in Iraq, looking for treasures he can ship back to Canada, he finds nine papyrus scrolls that have lain hidden for two thousand years. Once translated from Aramaic, these prove to be a fifth Gospel, written by an eye-witness of Jesus Christ's last days. But when Theo decides to share ...more
Hardcover, Canongate Myths, 208 pages
Published November 6th 2008 by Canongate Books Ltd (first published November 1st 2006)
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Melanti Eho #2?

Someone added a Slovanian imprint for translated books as a series.
I've deleted it and replaced it with a Listopia (per Goodreads rules) so…more
Eho #2?

Someone added a Slovanian imprint for translated books as a series.
I've deleted it and replaced it with a Listopia (per Goodreads rules) so Eho shouldn't show up any more unless you're on the Slovanian edition.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I admire Michel Faber for his random output. His brain a literary pick and mix bag. You can probably just stick your hand in there and twirl it about a bit and not ever be sure what you're going to come out with. This short and easy to read offering stars The unglamorous Theo Griepenkerl. A self indulgent academic who lucks out on an ill fated trip to Iraq and stumbles upon a previously unknown aramaic gospel. Life isnt all sweetness though for as he's stealing the gospels from mosul museum the ...more
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
The Fire Gospel attests to Faber’s intelligence as a writer of fiction. The story hinges on the discovery of a set of scrolls in a looted museum in Iraq, which contained the 5th gospel written by a disciple of Jesus named Malchus. On many layers, the novel reads like a parody of the Bible. The protagonist, a linguist and academician, is called Theo (Greek for God), who catapulted to overnight fame when he translated the papyrus scrolls from Aramaic. Interestingly, as the story itself is a startl ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Underwhelming. I like my satire more scathing and my humour, well, funnier.

This book needed to be at least twice as long, with a slower build-up and many more scenes of the damage Theo Grippen's book was causing to the faithful. It needed detail...everywhere, but especially the ending, which frankly left me believing that Faber petered out and/or chickened out.

As it was, I'm left with the thought that The Fire Gospel's real-life editor and publisher must have demanded the plot be sanitized; so
Tasha Robinson
Oct 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting premise, about a venal, flawed man who stumbles across a series of perfectly preserved scrolls from Jesus' time, including an eyewitness account of Judas' betrayal and Christ's crucifixion that completely contradict the existing gospels. But the execution is brief and minor, skipping across a lot of key connective material to draw some elaborate but disjointed sketches about the books' reception and its effect on the man who found it. It feels like so much is missing here — any attem ...more
Apr 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Very disappointed in this book; it had immense potential for a scathing commentary on current media marketing and religious lassitude. Unfortunately, the characters were rather pat (loser breaking up with his girlfriend, nutty Christians) and there was little else to offer. The plot moves quickly, but takes some rather unbelievable jumps. Also, the "translations" offered by the main character of the Book of Malchus simply don't read well. The problem is, if Faber intended this as a wry commentar ...more
Fairy tale? Myth? Legend? Religion? What do thses terms means?

Well, I'm not answering the question. You figure it out. But Faber does deal with the question in this book.

Part modern morality tale, Faber's Canongate volume attacks the play of religion in the media? What play I hear you ask? You mean 24 and its Muslim terrorists?

No, though one of the best sections of the book have a Muslim and Christian working together. I mean the whole Shroud of Turin, Da Vini Code, tomb of Jesus' brother, gospe
Rich Stoehr
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We speak of things that cannot be spoken."

I never really know what to expect from Michel Faber, but whatever he does, he invariably does it well.

In other hands, this story could be (and has been before) turned to long and meandering tales of ancient conspiracy, or eloquent statements about the nature of religion and belief. But for Faber, The Fire Gospel is sharp and funny and spare, poking fun at the modern businesses of publishing and journalism, exposing the inevitable conflict between faith
John Champneys
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, satire
I purchase this over the Christmas period as a present to myself, after liking the review, and because it was going for such a bargain price. As soon as I'd done that, I squirreled it away in the archives and forgot all about it.
I'd previously been reading my way through The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow, and was feeling soggy and saturated by the time I'd reached the end and as I was looking for something short and cheery I felt this Fire Gospel might just be the thing to dry me out and war
Heidi Ward
I really liked this book. I wanted to really love it. It had all the hallmarks of the sort of philoso-satire I tend to enjoy. The idea of an earnest, if a little duplicitous, academic causing a history-exploding breach in the world's major (and most troublesome) faiths is awesome. "The Fifth Gospel," the newly-discovered and translated Aramaic book-within-the-book that starts all the hubbub is both funny and humane. The satiric skewering of fanatics (of both the religious and Dan-Brown-loving va ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Fifty percent of the way through this book, I just started skimming it. The main character is not particularly sympathetic, and there's no one else really of note in that time, and the plot itself is pretty well-trodden. The myth it's supposedly based on doesn't really make an appearance in that half, either -- I normally like the Canongate series, at least as light reading, but really, not a fan of this one.

It isn't exactly fast-paced, and there's more than a whiff of male wish-fulfilment surro
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I went into this book with very high expectations because I simply adored Michel Faber's book The Crimson Petal and the White. This book didn't disappoint at all. It's a thin book, which is rather nice because TCPATW is such a dense and meaty read. Yet Faber's writing just pulls you right into the story from the beginning.

I highly recommend this.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Well, that was kind of lame.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up.

Part of the Canongate Myth Series, The Fire Gospel is a modern adaptation of Prometheus. An academic has smuggled a new and unknown gospel out of Iraq and we follow his rise and fall from grace in the hands of the publishing world and Christian fanatics. The main character is painted out to be a materialistic, self-serving man with illusions that he is doing good for mankind.

A quick paced and interesting read. Looking forward to finding more Canongate Myths books!
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dec 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: an ape
Shelves: fiction, home-library
**********Spoiler Alert*********

This book had so much potential and it let me down. Faber is great with description and even though I did not like the book his writing kept me moving along. I know that the book is fictional, yet I was not able to believe the premise of the story and did not care for the character. First I had a problem with the fact that he happened to be an expert in Aramaic who finds these lost gospels in Aramaic after in explosion in an Iraqi museum and then he is able to smu
Katie Gerrard
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a short novel at 224 pages, but I think the story lends itself well to the size and you don't at any point feel that the narrative is moving on too quickly or isn't developed enough. The story covers an academic who, whilst visiting war torn Iraq to try and look after some of the artefacts, discovers by chance some scrolls. Worrying for their safety, and with his personal life in turmoil, he steals them. When he begins working on the translation of the stolen scrolls he finds that he has ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
This was a huge disappointment. It's part of the Canongate myth series; however, it was not a retelling of an old myth. It was a new story about a fifth book of the Gospels, written by Malchus, a former servant of the high priest Caiaphus. Malchus is traditionally believed to have had his ear cut of by Peter, a disciple of Jesus. The manuscript of Malchus has been discovered by a scholar who goes through difficult times after he convinces a publisher to read his book. I'm disappointed because th ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cannongate, religion, 2016
I'm not a huge "silly" fan to begin with...

Add in a historically inaccurate text, an implausible premise, and a complete disregard for the existence of apocryphal texts and you've got a book I didn't like in the slightest.

There's a couple of decent bits in there - particularly some jokes about the ridiculousness of our news media - but that wasn't nearly enough to save the book in my eyes.
Ludmila Kovaříková
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ostatni
Snad celou knihu myslel jako vtip. Ironický podtón ukazuje přihlouplé reakce na objev nového evangelia (komentáře na Amazonu, křesťané, únosci spřádající šílené teorie o vlivu knihy, očekávaná sebevražda kvůli ztrátě smyslu víry...). Ale kdo vlastně Malchusovi rozumí, proč vlastně i přes jiná slova na kříži uvěřil? Škoda že dvojsmysly na začátku knihy se pomalu vytrácely.
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: english
Myths generally have a quality that lifts you up to a state of 'willing suspension of disbelief'. This particular work does that and then drops you like a sack of potatoes into the 'real' world of Amazon reviews.
What follows is some halfhearted start of a thriller, which is bluntly cut off. It feels like the second half of a novel is missing.
Apr 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read this all the way through, hoping it would improve, but it didn't. Maybe I missed the point.

So many things in the story were preposterous. In real life, would he have got the scrolls through customs? Would he have translated all nine scrolls from Aramaic in one week? Would the glamorous editor really have slept with him? Would any sensible scholar have stolen them and kept them secret in the first place, knowing it would completely destroy his credibility in academia?

OK, so I get that the
Sheridan Merrick
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite. I had trouble rooting for the protagonist because he didn't have many redeemable qualities, and not in a way that was interesting or exciting. He was constantly objectifying women, defining people by their race, and was a pretentious dude seeking money. It got more interesting as it went on and was more about the actual gospel he released and the crazy response to it, but as soon as that became the focus the book ended. I enjoyed reading Malchus the most, because it was really i ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-sci-fi, kindle
Interesting, fun, short. I liked the idea (and many wouldn't) of a story describing the discovery of a new Gospel. There is so much interpretation of the existing 4, that a new narrative of the same events from a radically different timeline would unavoidably peturb our understanding of Christianity, and there are so many vested interests in the status quo that any interpreter of the text would come under severe pressure from a number of sides. Both of these elements are handled in this brief st ...more
Craig Dickson
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not totally sure how I feel about this book. It was well written and enjoyable to read - Faber is a beautiful writer. But I felt that the ending was unsatisfying and unresolved. Of course, it was deliberately so, but for me it didn't really work. Maybe I'm not poetic enough, but I was hoping for more resolution.

It was good though, dealing with interesting themes and with an engagingly dislikeable protagonist. So yeah, I can't really fault it technically and I enjoyed it right up until the l
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have high expectations from Faber and this was just as fun to read. An hilarious romp through a middle aged man's highly irreverant biblical revelations. There is always something slightly offbeat with Faber, and this was again. one sit read, be prepared to be offended.
Amy Berti
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Don’t read it.
I gave it two stars because the author is actually an intelligent guy with an interesting writing style. But his storyline is terrible, sad and never redeems itself. Depressing at best. Choose just about anything else; you’ve been warned.
Jonathan Gruber
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it
solid religious satire. But not nearly as good as Lamb.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rws-summer-18
It’s been ages since I’ve read Prometheus myths. Was he an asshole? Because Theo is an asshole.

Early on there was a moment of delightful hilarity, but the book was a disappointment.
Mike Finn
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Did Michel Faber grow tired of the idea? I enjoyed the notion and enjoyed most of the tale but the whole thing seemed to me to peter out.
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
full review!

Michel Faber's slim novella The Fire Gospel is part of a collection of novellas called The Canongate Myth Series, featuring modern retellings of ancient myths. The Fire Gospel is inspired by the Greek Titan Prometheus, who introduced humankind to fire and lived to regret it. The subtitle of this work reminded me instantly of Frankenstein, and I was wary of Faber trying to outdo that text or become overly influenced by it, but this concern was unfounded because
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Michel Faber (born 13 April 1960) is a Dutch writer of English-language fiction.

Faber was born in The Hague, The Netherlands. He and his parents emigrated to Australia in 1967. He attended primary and secondary school in the Melbourne suburbs of Boronia and Bayswater, then attended the University Of Melbourne, studying Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric, English Language (a course involving translation a
More about Michel Faber

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